Notes: Casilla may hang around
With few options, rookie infielder could stay with Twins
MINNEAPOLIS -- Earlier this week Twins manager Ron Gardenhire made clear his desire to keep infielder Alexi Casilla on the roster even with the impending return of Luis Castillo and Jeff Cirillo from their current injuries. But he wasn't sure it was something that would necessarily happen.Now, with the setback that Rondell White suffered on Wednesday, just days before he was expected to be activated from the disabled list, Casilla's presence with the club appears to have become almost guaranteed. White's problem with his strained right calf muscle is as bad as the club feared. White said he felt a pop while running and described it feeling like being hit with a baseball in the back of his leg. An MRI on White's calf Thursday morning revealed that there is a tear in the calf muscle. White will not travel with the club on its current road trip but will remain in Minnesota for a week before heading to Florida to continue his rehab program. An exact timetable has not been set but Gardenhire admitted it will be quite a bit of time before he can return. "The Rondell situation changed things a lot," Gardenhire said. "I thought maybe once we activated him and got Cirillo back, we could let Casilla go down and play. But now that doesn't appear to be the case." Casilla has been getting plenty of playing time in the Twins lineup with Castillo's sore left quad muscle keeping him out for the past week and shortstop Jason Bartlett's groin issue allowing for some playing time at shortstop before that. Castillo's return is still expected within the coming days as the second baseman was expected to run again Thursday morning to see if he would be ready to play at all during the series in Detroit this weekend. But the quad injury is not something that the Twins believe will become a non-issue anytime soon. That's because Castillo's previous quad injury lingered for some time and caused him to miss additional playing time even after his initial return. So a combination of a day or two at second base and shortstop during the week was something Gardenhire felt would be enough to keep Casilla around -- at least for now. "I think I could find enough times to play him on both sides," Gardenhire said of Casilla. "As long as I can mix him in a couple times a week, I think we'll be all right." Gardenhire appears to be intent on finding numerous ways of getting Casilla in the lineup. He even admitted to a unique idea of getting the talented infielder in the lineup more often. "With the situation we have with our DH right now, I might just DH him," Gardenhire said with a chuckle, knowing how strange that sounded. "It might get a little speed in there." Options limited: One of the reasons for keeping Casilla on the bench is the Twins feels there aren't many other options available to bring up from their farm system. But a player that could emerge sooner than expected on the team's radar is outfielder Lew Ford. Ford is expected to be sent out on an official rehab assignment either Monday or Tuesday. Ford has been out since the start of Spring Training after suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee. He underwent surgery to repair it in early March and has been rehabbing in Fort Myers, Fla., while playing in some extended Spring Training games. On Wednesday, Gardenhire said he didn't expect Ford to be ready for at least another month but with all the injuries piling up for the Twins, that situation has changed. "Things change down there pretty quick," Gardenhire said. "Especially when things change like they have up here." Redmond to be checked: Mike Redmond's left shoulder will be examined Friday after he took a hit from the bat of Royals shortstop Tony Pena Jr. in the fourth inning of Thursday's game. Pena's backswing appeared to nail Redmond on the left shoulder blade. Pleading patience: Offensive woes have plagued the Twins over their past six games but especially during the team's current four-game homestand. In the first three games, which have all been losses, the Twins have hit just .221 while averaging three runs per game. The team is 3-8 this season when scoring three or fewer runs. More woeful even has been an inability to get the big hits at critical times as the Twins have hit just .158 (3-for-19) with runners in scoring position. Hitting coach Joe Vavra feels the problem has been a lack of patience at the plate by the Twins. With everyone in the offense struggling at the same time, the hitters have become overanxious, each wanting to be the guy to get the clutch hit. "It's a little bit of trying to do too much," Vavra said. "We've just got to get back into slowing the game down a bit, seeing the ball better and getting our pitches to hit and not trying to cover the whole plate. They have a pretty good plan going into it, for the most part. But the situation gets a little too much where they want to be the guy that's going to turn things around. Everyone wants to be that guy and when that happens, they come out of what they should be concentrating on. And that's seeing their pitch." Down on the farm: Left-hander Alexander Smit allowed three runs on four hits over four innings in Class A Fort Myers' 5-4 victory over Clearwater on Wednesday night. First baseman Erik Lis went 3-for-4 in the contest with a double and one RBI. The games for Triple-A Rochester and Double-A New Britain were rained out Coming up: The Twins head to Detroit for their first three-game series with their division rivals, the Tigers, which begins Friday with a 6:05 p.m. CT contest. Right-hander Ramon Ortiz will get the start in the opener as he faces reigning AL Rookie of the Year, right-hander Justin Verlander.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.